The Message Must be Said Aloud


BY MATTHEW PAUL (@_MATTHEW_PAUL_)


As the Day of the Lord approaches, the Church must find clarity on the task at hand—the apostolic message, methods, and ministry—of proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom until the end.[1] This Good News must be declared and demonstrated among every tribe, tongue, and peoples. So as we look to the Church’s urgent and unfinished task, we find it awkward and wasteful to give ourselves to any mission that would seek to “be the hands and feet of Jesus” while leaving His “mouth” at home.

Sadly, Saint Francis of Assisi has popularly been misquoted as saying that one should preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” This “pseudo-Franciscan” idea does not agree with the apostles’ mission, nor that of our beloved brother Francis, who boldly preached the Gospel to Muslims while most of his generation was taking up the sword in the name of the Cross (“Don’t do that Crusade thing.” -Jesus). Regardless of who coined the phrase, it has unfortunately become part of popular Christian jargon, often cowardly invoked to “keep the peace” with “those who kill the body.”[2] When we look to the apostolic message, methods, and ministry there is no indication that His sent ones would find a mission where it wasn’t always necessary to “use words” in the preaching of the Gospel. The nature of the Gospel message itself provides insight into the urgent need for Gospel words to be heard.

The nature of the message of the apostles is one of ultimate power, the power of God. The Apostle Paul tells us clearly that he was not sent to baptize (convert) people, but to faithfully “preach the gospel,” for it is the “wisdom and power of God…the word of the Cross.”[3] Paul elsewhere declares that he is “eager” and “unashamed” to preach the Gospel “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the [Gentile].”[4] Knowing that the Gospel message is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,[5] he still thought it the only worthy message to proclaim because it is the only hope of both Jew and Gentile. So we see the nature of the message is not only the wisdom and power of God, but it is this wisdom and power that alone leads to eternal life. 

Thus the apostolic method of mission is preaching this powerful and indispensable message. Later in the letter to the Romans, we find Paul expounding on the stewardship and necessity of this method of Gospel proclamation. Simply put, the Gospel must be preached and must be heard. He tells the reader that if you respond to “the word of faith which we are preaching…confessing with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”[6] This is based on the Scriptures that say, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed,”[7] and “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”[8] The apostle’s logical conclusion to this truth is what follows:

“How then will they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? 
How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? 
And how will they hear without a preacher? 
How will they preach unless they are sent?” 

Thus every tribe, tongue, and peoples must hear the message of a sent preacher, believe said message, and call upon the LORD of said preacher and message…and then the end will come.[9]  The apostolic ministry then demands that those who are unreached by the Gospel need the power of God in the testimony of Jesus urgently given as an ultimatum. They need His fragrance to be wafted directly into their nostrils. Whether it smells of life or death to them, [10] faithfulness to Jesus and His mission demands that we use words. We must preach the Gospel.

This apostolic ministry is seen clearly in 2 Corinthians as Paul gives us an autobiographical account of his ministry so beautifully. “Knowing the fear of the Lord,” Paul made it his “ambition to be pleasing to [God]”and “persuade men.”[11] With “great boldness in [his] speech” he was preaching an “unveiled” Gospel. [12] “Compelled by the love of Christ,” he was “appealing to every man’s conscience” as he “manifested the truth” in testifying to “the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”[13] He had joined the conviction of the fathers in his bold preaching, saying with them, “We believe, therefore we speak,”[14] and his commission was to preach this “word of reconciliation," as one who is “[an ambassador] for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through [him],” begging them “on behalf of Christ,” saying, “Be reconciled to God!”[15]

Our charge then, as ambassadors for Christ, is to go and do likewise. We cherish the message of the Gospel as the power of God for salvation. We submit to the urgent and unfinished method of preaching this Gospel as a fragrant aroma in every place. We labor in this ministry that’s been committed to us in the word of reconciliation, as we take up His cross and are compelled by love, we beg all, in light of His coming kingdom, to be reconciled to God. 

“May the word of the Lord spread rapidly and be glorified.”[16]


Matthew Paul serves FAI as Director of the Arab World and gives leadership to the Emmaus School of Ministry. He and his wife live with their four young children in the Middle East. Matthew can be reached at matthewpaul@faimission.org.



 

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[1] Matthew 24:14
[2] Matthew 10:28
[3] 1 Corinthians 1:17ff
[4] Romans 1:15-16
[5] 1 Corinthians 1:23
[6] Romans 10:8-9
[7] Isaiah 28:16
[8] Joel 2:32
[9] Matthew 24:14
[10] 2 Corinthians 2:14-17
[11] 2 Corinthians 5:9-11
[12] 2 Corinthians 3:12ff
[13] 2 Corinthians 4-5
[14] 2 Corinthians 4:13; Psalm 116
[15] 2 Corinthians 5:20
[16] 2 Thessalonians 3:1